Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making YouTube tutorials

So for the past few months I've been making YouTube videos, teaching people how to do things in Unity. Its been pretty fun. One of my videos is pushing twenty thousand views. In total the channel view count is above sixty thousand. Not massive stats by any means, but nothing to be ashamed of either. I thought I would share some random thoughts on making the videos, in case anyone else is thinking of getting into it.


First thing I do is make the project. I do this with no recording, just getting the code right. I figure out all of the little bugs. This dummy project then becomes my reference during recording.

Actually recording the video is not hard. There are a bunch of free screen recording tools that will capture what you are doing as you do it. I use a free tool called Screen Recorder, there are a bunch of other tools out there as well.

Once the video is recorded I edit it for visual content. The idea here is to cut out as much wasted time as possible. This includes compiler errors, times where I flip back to the dummy project,  straight out mistakes and the like. Unless you are specifically teaching about debugging, there is little point to showing people the wrong way to do things. I typically cut more then half of the recorded footage at this point.

Then I record the sound. I try and record the sound in a single sitting, otherwise the volume gets off. This would not be an issue in a real recording studio, but in my lounge its often a challenge to get a consistent distance to the microphone and ambient conditions each time I record.

Finally I upload the video to YouTube, and post about it in as many places as I can. This typically includes all of the places where Unity developers hang out, including the forums, answers and various Facebook groups.


For anyone wanting to make YouTube tutorials, here are some of the tips I'd pass on
  • Keep your videos short and to the point. Edit out as much stuff as possible. Viewers don't want to spend an hour watching if half of it is you fixing compiler errors.
  • Plan ahead. Don't make any coding decisions during recording time.
  • Record audio separately. Coding in C# and talking in English are both activities that require focus. Doing both at the same time will slow things down.
  • Keep each video focused on a single task or principle.
  • Initial views are your responsibility. Once you get enough community engagement YouTube's search and sharing features will take over. But getting the first few hundred views is your responsibility. Push your videos everywhere.
  • Pick topics that are commonly asked for by the community, but haven't been done properly. New features are often a great target. For me it was the UI tools in 4.6. I was engaged in using these tools since the beta was first released. I had valuable knowledge that other people were interested in learning.


If you are in this for the money, I've got bad news for you. My average earnings have been around $2 per thousand views. If we assume these rates are consistent for Unity tutorials, this means that if the official Unity channel were monetised, it would have brought in $40,000 across the last six years. I don't know about you, but that's certainly not enough of a wage to cover my living expenses. And the official Unity channel is by far the biggest tutorial channel for Unity out there.

And I probably should finish this off with a link to my channel. Happy watching.